My latest at Hardball Times offers a real-time accounting of the Padres’ final game in 2010. I would have written a better ending, but non-fiction is unforgiving that way.
Assuming I can get my act together, I’ll post some final thoughts on the season later in the week and lay out plans for the coming months of baseball darkness. Meanwhile, I found writing about Game 162 to be a cathartic exercise in much the same way launching my television into the street would have been — only cheaper and less likely to provoke the authorities.
Save yourself. Save your television. Read the article.
I sort of disagree that Ludwick isn’t a good NL West player. I think the team did him a disservice sticking him in right field. You’re right in that he just doesn’t have the range for it in the big NL West parks, but he still catches well and has a rocket for an arm. A shift to left field should help mitigate most of his issues in the field.
At the plate, he definitely struggled at times, but if you look at the underlying numbers he was the victim of a lot of bad luck. He struck out a bit more here than he did in St. Louis, true, but he also walked more. What’s more, he actually hit more line drives with the Padres than he did with the Cardinals and yet still somehow saw his BABIP fall about 75 points! Based on his batted ball profile, his BABIP should have been around .320, rather than the .250-ish it was.
He has the potential to be a far better hitter than any other option we have in the outfield for next year, and I think the team should bring him back.
Zach, good point that Ludwick was playing out of position and that he’s not as bad a hitter as fans think he is. But he’s 32, and I think Venable and Cunningham have more offensive upside and much better defensive talent for the long haul than Ludwick, at a lower cost.
I don’t view the coming months as baseball darkness. This was Jed Hoyer’s first year as GM and he only nibbled around the edges last off-season, evaluating the team that had done so well at the end of 2009. The much maligned attendance rose by 220,000, and it usually spikes the year after a good season in contention, so Jed may have not only a better idea of what he’s got, but more to work with this off-season.
With options on Garland, Torrealba, Chris Young, and the no-brainer with Adrian; the arbitration with Bell and Ludwick; and potential free agency of Eckstein, Correia, Tejada, Adams, Stairs, Salazar, and both Hairstons, a lot of decisions will have to be made. I don’t think Geoff will have any shortage of things to write about.
@ Larry: That’s easy. Goodbye Eckstein, Correia, Stairs, Salazar, and both Hairstons. Tejada can stay if he takes one year heavily incentivized. Re-sign Adams. There, done.
Checked Adams and he’s an arbitration eligible candidate, not an FA until 2013. Either way he’s coming back, imo.
The big decision for this winter isn’t about Adrian. If he wants money in the Ryan Howard region, Hoyer has to trade him — this winter when his value will be higher than at the end of next July when he’ll be viewed as a rental only. It’s as simple as that. I hate saying this as much as you hate reading it, but we both know it’s true.
Bell is gone, too, but he’s replaceable (which is why he’s gone). The Padres’ bullpen is young and so deep that he won’t be missed much, and there are plenty of teams out there sufficiently mesmerized by the saves stat that they’ll overpay for him, as the Mets did for K-Rod.
The biggest difference between this year and last is that the starting rotation is now a much better known quantity. A rotation of Latos, Garland, Richard, Stauffer, and a healthy Young can win the division, given enough run support. We did not know this last year; we do now.
Hoyer’s REAL job is going to be finding the run support, after subtracting his only real offensive threat from the lineup.
@ #5: It’s certainly a viable and reasonable option, perhaps it’s even the best option (I really don’t know), to trade Adrian, but it doesn’t HAVE to be done. It was spoken of as an inevitability this year and wasn’t done, and it worked out pretty well. If the team/FO feels it can contend with Adrian, they can keep him and settle for the supplemental pick (picks?).
I think it’s more likely Bell would be traded if an overpay can be arranged, as you point out. A back of the bullpen including Thatcher, Frieri, Gregerson, and Adams sounds pretty solid to me.
I’m going to commit heresy here: maybe the Padres are a better team without Adrian. People think you can build a team around a superstar, but the best way is to build a pitching staff and good defense with contact hitters who get on base a lot, and THEN pick up a star as a keystone for the group. When you start with a star, you concentrate on getting a guy to “protect” him and end up with weak hitters elsewhere in the lineup, and maybe use resources to get that protection that could have been better used addressing other weaknesses.
Adrian and Ludwick are good hitters, but the Padres have outfield resources to replace Ludwick, and if Kyle Blanks can’t hold down first base, there is no shortage of veterans who could fill in for a couple years and provide power. What the team really needs is a regular shortstop-second baseman combo for the future. If Jed signed Ludwick and traded him and Adrian for that combo, I wouldn’t be all that unhappy.
@ Larry: Great point about up the middle needs! Tejada and Eckstein are not the answer, not even for next season, and, unfortunately, we now have significant questions about Cabrera. Off the top of my head I’d say those two spots are very high, if not the top, priority for this off season.